These days we try to manage every aspect of our lives: from ecology to work, from health to dying. We manage our emotions and sex life, our children and our creativity, our pleasure, our pain, our minutes, our hours, days, and years. Management has become more subtle, efficient, and invasive: we are beginning to speak of managing our DNA and our dreams. It’s easy to submit to this dictatorship of management—because it all seems so normal and wonderfully efficient.
But is the management of people and resources creating a fuller world? Or is management todays’ pseudo religion and science: something which divides and dissects, enumerates and rations every aspect of our lives so that no human heart can remain? Isn’t management the deepest reduction of who we are and what we could be? Isn’t management shredding the world to pieces?
What do we manage? Today human beings are treated as units of production, instead of living beings in need of community, creativity, and friendship. As products we are, enumerated, dissected, and put in arbitrary and reductive categories. Like oil and gold, human flesh is a finite ‘human resource’ — devoid of depth and mystery, stripped of spontaneity—something so passive that he or she is easily managed.
In management, we give way to a schizogenic reality: we manage our freedom though servitude and surveillance, our sexuality through categories and appendages, our happiness though medication, our peace though a constant war on the natural world and on ourselves. We even have begun to allow social network algorithms to manipulate and ‘clean up’ our own messy history for us by generating and managing ‘memories’. (And if we complain of this we will drowned out by armies of philistines who defend the management of our emotions and memories as ‘cute’ and ‘fun’. A new 1984 has yet to be written on this sinister form of benevolent management in the information age.)
The key to management is ambivalence: ambivalent language excludes people from ways to articulate their imprisonment and drowns out their individual voices in a cacophony of memes. To justify the barbarity of management, we use technical and utopian language. In the management paradigm, we no longer have work but employment, nature but ‘the environment’, sadness and melancholia but ‘clinical depression’. Space and time are operating systems—we manage our anger and our lovers as if they were things. Management renders our experience more and more mechanistic and disembodied though an addiction to control. Hyperactive management is bound to distort bodies and minds: it cannot do otherwise.
Even if we do succeed in geoengineering the weather, we will certainly create more fissures in the tender fabric of life, making the situation far worse though calculation. There will be miscalculations and disasters created by management in far away places, a glitch in the artificial intelligence mirror. Nobody will be responsible, and management will be further transferred to machines, leaving us helplessly parasitical. There is no reforming of management within management
Just imagine the idea of really managing anything—a leaf or a star—and one can grasp the tyranny of management. Nothing born or created was ever done so though management. Only a tyrant can be casual in his management of a rainforest, a child, or an animal. In a materialistic worldview we consider those things mere stuff—economic rather than spiritual substance. And so our neglected spirit becomes a ghost in the devastated machine of human resource management.
Today’s management is all about branding raw information into cash. And planet earth has now become the ultimate brand, something to manage; the earth logo the ultimate symbol of this reduction of everything to icons and avatars who are cyphers rather than saviours. Saving the world has now become ‘brand management’.
To think that that we could manage and number all the beast and plants, dreams and persons, that we could tag the world in the way we tag an animal ready for slaughter, is a lunatic’s dream. But a new priesthood is already trying to manage the meta-ecology and the God particle—and this is reason to evisage more horrors. The trouble is that this new lunacy is the norm and appears to be benevolent. Its problems are inaudible to us until we question their root assumptions.
We must wake up to the tyranny of management or be manhandled by a rapacious and cannibalistic force of which would like to control and consume us whole.